Reaction Without Fear, Part 1

Wellness |

Operating a graphic arts business for the past 20 years has certainly brought its share of memorable experiences. The most challenging being, how to respond to any given situation without “reacting”. This is a lesson in responding to uncomfortable situations without the reaction of fear.

Having experienced many encounters that have challenged my ability to respond without a “reaction”, I have come to realize that in any given situation you can either respond in a manner that is positive or negative and it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure that one out.

As an example, last week I had a client of 10 years withdraw a substantial amount of work from my company. How do you not react when you see a good portion of your income going out the door? It’s a situation many of us would find hard not to react to, but for some reason I didn’t. Call it maturity, call it enlightenment or just call it plain stupid, but after years of reacting to similar situations I’ve learned there is more to gain by such an experience if I stop reacting, step back, and examine the bigger picture. It’s a skill that requires a person to gaze deep into one’s self and examine more than an outer event.

In the early years of my business, it may have been a common occurrence for me to grovel or crawl on my hands and knees to do anything I could to hold onto an account. I often found myself making deals and agreements that were less than healthy or productive for my business or me. I was always selling myself short, believing I was less important than the client writing the paychecks.

Over the years I’ve developed more confidence and much more compassion for myself. I’ve learned how to react in a more productive and healthy manner. It’s not something you learn overnight and it takes time and practice, but once developed, this awareness brings to your life a whole new dimension of freedom.

Being the typical type A personality, hard driven, perfectionist with high expectations, it took a near death illness to awaken me to the bigger picture. A very “human” thing happens to us when we are confronted with an extreme challenge, be it in business or life in general. The first thing your body encounters is an onslaught of adrenaline, it’s often referred to as, “the fight or flight syndrome.” Your emotions rush in like Niagara Falls, often moving so quickly that without a balanced awareness they easily take control of the situation, thus causing you to “react”. I’m not saying having emotions is a bad thing, because in its balanced state, emotions are part of being human and can save your life. That’s why when emotion works out of reaction it is usually reaction to a survival mode, but losing an account or making a dent in my monthly income is by no means a life or death situation. I wasn’t going to die if this happened. Allowing for an emotional reaction that I held onto would not have been in the best interest for my physical body. Sure, I reacted, I felt the emotion, allowed the emotion to happen, but the difference was I let it go. I did not hold onto it.

The first thing to notice when dealing with a dramatic situation is the priority. Ask yourself, “Is my life in danger? Will I die if this does not happen? In most cases the answer is no. This is your first indication that you are dealing with a fear situation.”

In a healthy encounter, reacting is very productive, but with a less than ideal awareness, fear is always the culprit. Fear encompasses many of our emotions, most start with anger or guilt, all will be the reason for a reaction.

Most people reacting aren’t even aware they are reacting out of fear. It’s only when the fear is recognized and confronted that the experience begins to shift into a positive and productive experience.